Author(s): Lesley Blanch
"There have been many women who have followed the beckoning Eastern star" says Lesley Blanch. She writes about four such women in The Wilder Shores Of Love - Isabel Burton (who married the Arabist and explorer Richard), Jane Digby el-Mezrab (Lady Ellenborough, the society beauty who ended up living in the Syrian desert with a Bedouin chieftain), Aimee Dubucq de Rivery (a French convent girl captured by pirates and sent to the Sultan's harem in Istanbul), and Isabelle Eberhardt (a Swiss linguist who felt most comfortable in boy's clothes and lived among the Arabs in the Sahara). They all escaped from the constraints of nineteenth century Europe and fled to the Middle East, where they found love, fulfillment, and "glowing horizons of emotion and daring". Blanch's first, bestselling book, The Wilder Shores Of Love pioneered a new kind of group biography focusing on women escaping the boredom of convention. Yet although of widely different natures, backgrounds and origins, all had this in common - each found, in the East, 'glowing horizons of emotion and daring'. And each of them, in their own way, used love as a means of individual expression, of liberation and fulfilment.
Lesley Blanch (1904-2007), a Londoner by birth, spent the greater part of her life travelling about those remote areas her books record so vividly. In the early 1930s she was among the few who adventured across the USSR. From 1937-1944 she was features editor of Vogue. In 1945 she married Russian-born diplomat Romain Gary. Life in the French diplomatic service took them from the Balkans, North Africa and the USA. They divorced in 1962. Lesley Blanch continued to travel, now East, now West, returning to the Sahara which had inspired her first celebrated book, The Wilder Shores Of Love. Her website is at www.lesleyblanch.com